Yoga Listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

Image result for unesco

The ancient practice of yoga is now listed as one of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. In 2014, UNESCO’s committee for safeguarding listed practices voted unanimously for India’s proposal to add yoga. Yoga is now OFFICIALLY an international heritage and treasure…as if yogi’s really needed an official notice.

So what does this mean?

The main reason for creating the list is to highlight cultural contributions and heritages present around the world. By creating this list, UNESCO is essentially fostering understanding between cultures, highlighting the great contributions they have made to societies and cultural progress.

As quoted from the UNESCO website:

“Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world.”

Essentially, this list is a means to preserve cultural practices. UNESCO is not only highlighting yoga as a cultural contribution to the world, but it’s also creating a means to safeguard the practice from cultural elimination. Apparently, UNESCO may offer technical or financial support to communities who may be struggling to protect such ancient practices. This is still something to be seen happen or confirmed by UNESCO.

Ultimately, the addition to yoga to UNESCO’s list of cultural contributions helps us further the use of its traditions not only for physical exercise, but for overall health and healing. It also gives yogis an even better response when asked, why yoga?

For a complete 2016 additions to the list of UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, click here.

Image result for yoga

Trauma-Informed Yoga

“Trauma-Informed” is another buzz word going around these days. What it means to be trauma-informed isn’t always clear though. How to become trauma-informed is even more unclear.

In the realm of yoga, being trauma-informed seems natural. Sadly, it’s not always the case. Often the things we, as yoga teachers, try to do to assist the practicing yogi may in fact cause the trauma to resurface and may even lead to re-traumatization. Something as simple as moving someone’s hand can be the difference between a very gentle stretch and an anxiety inducing movement.

Many organizations are offering trauma-informed yoga teacher trainings. While the full 200 hour teacher training may not be completely trauma informed, weekend workshops and classes often incorporate or emphasize techniques necessary to work with traumatized and vulnerable populations.

One such organization is Street Yoga. This organization, based in the state of Washington, provides trauma-informed yoga classes to at-risk youth. This organization also travels around the world to provide trauma-informed yoga teacher training workshops to allow for vulnerable populations to have access to yoga. Yoga can teach many coping skills, allowing traumatized individuals to cope and move through their trauma.

street-yoga

Some key examples to being a trauma-informed yoga teacher includes:

-Minimal physical adjustments

-Reducing the use of vulnerable poses (like child’s pose)

-Minimal use of difficult or exotic poses (like headstands)

-Providing safe space for sharing

-Incorporating meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), and asanas (physical yoga poses)

Yoga is being used as a means for individuals to deal with trauma. Many UN Peacekeepers have used yogic techniques to not only deal with the work they do on a daily basis, but teaching these techniques to the refugees to help them deal with their own realities. Something as simple as a deep breath can help pause a stressful moment and allow for space and time to process and move through it.

While yoga won’t solve or fix any problems or trauma, yoga can provide tools to process and deal with situations in an effective way.

For more information on Street Yoga, check out their website: http://streetyoga.org/